A writer like you: Amy Voltaire
Meet Amy Voltaire, an accountant by trade and an author and blogger during her free time.
Her debut novel My Name is Erin and My Mom’s an Addict was officially released on April 27, 2019. Her favorite author is Stephen King and her favorite book is On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.
You’ll love reading about the WHY behind her book, her just-get-the-first-draft-written philosophy, and the sacrifices she made to complete her book while working a full-time job.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
What is your book about?
Raised by her grandparents when her mother chooses drugs over her daughter, Erin knows she isn't like other kids. Then her world is shaken a second time by her mother's reappearance.
Being a teenager is never easy, but just when Erin thinks she has her life on track, her mother shows up and warms her way back into Erin's life. Can an addict really ever kick the addiction? How many lives will drugs destroy?
Describe your book’s journey from concept to finished result.
After meeting many young people who are being raised by relatives due to their parent(s) problems with substance abuse, I decided to write a fiction book for them—one that they could enjoy and relate to. Once I got the idea for what I wanted the book to be about, I immediately started writing it. I began writing at least 2,000 words a day in December of 2017, resulting in a completed first draft about a month later. After about 25 failed attempts in obtaining a literary agent, I decided to go with a local hybrid publishing agency to get the book published. The whole process (beta readers, edits, etc.) was completed in March of this year when I received printed copies of my book.
What inspired you to share your words with the world?
Many young people who are the innocent victims of their loved ones’ addictions feel alone, misunderstood, and embarrassed. I wanted them to know that there are many others who are going through similar trials and that their parents’ addiction is not their fault. I wanted them to understand that they can live happy and productive lives, independent of their loved ones’ addictions. I wanted to give them hope.
What have you learned about writing so far?
I’ve learned that there are going to be days when I just don’t feel like writing and the ideas aren’t coming; on those days, it’s important to write anyway. Even if I feel like what I’m writing is horrible, it doesn’t matter. I can fix anything once the first draft is complete.
How do you define writer success?
I suppose success is measured differently depending on what a writer’s goals are. For me, success would be when young people have read my book and tell me that my made-up story has helped them in their real-life in some way.
How do you think writers can change the world?
They give people a different perspective on things. In the case of my book, I’m hoping that those who aren’t familiar with addiction begin to understand the dynamics of it and how one person’s addiction affects everyone in their life. I also hope that the book removes some of the stigmatism associated with addiction. I’ve read many books that made me look at the world and its inhabitants in a different way, and from a different point of view. Fictional characters are sometimes our best teachers.
What are your tips for writing strong characters?
Nobody is perfect, and characters shouldn’t be either. Everyone thinks bad things sometimes, everyone has lied, and we’ve all made poor choices. I think strong characters are real and relatable. Even “bad guys” have reasons for the way they behave. A strong character gives the reader a glimpse into the way they think and why they do the things they do.
Do you have any tips for outlining?
I don’t outline. I suppose that works well for some writers, but I’m more of a sit down and start typing kind of writer. If I was the type of writer who did outlines, I would probably scour the internet for tips and tricks. The internet is a wonderful resource for that sort of thing.
How do you overcome writer’s block
I just start writing. Even when I know that the words forming on the page are junk, I keep at it. I can fix things once the first draft is complete—that’s what edits are for.
What advice would you give other writers?
I would advise them to read Stephen King’s book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I used came from this book: Write every single day until the first draft is done; if you don’t, your characters become more like characters and less like real people to you. My main character, Erin, is a real person to me--writing Erin’s story each day brought her to life and kept her alive.
What is your ultimate writer’s dream?
I would love it if my book sold thousands of copies, ending up in the hands of young people. For me, it’s truly not about making money—it’s about my words (hopefully) changing lives.
What’s the best part of being an author?
This may sound a little sadistic, but I LOVE when someone finishes my book and tells me that it made them cry; that’s when I know that I did what I wanted to do—I gave them “the feels.”
Describe your typical workweek.
Oh, how I wish I could say, “I get up, do this and that, and then spend X many hours writing.” The reality is much different: I work full-time as an accountant so my typical workweek when I was writing my book looked like this: Get home from work around 5:00, take care of the animals, work out, shower, eat dinner (sometimes), and then sit down and write. More often than not, I was up until midnight and had to be at work early the next morning. That was tough, but SO worth it.
Where can we connect with you?
To free the writer this week, let’s write every day until the first draft is done before worrying about any edits. Let me know how it goes in the comments below.